QB Brandon Weeden, Free agent
HT: 6-4, WT: 221, Born: 10-14-1983, College: Oklahoma State, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 22
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Brandon Weeden's time as an NFL starter came and went without much fanfare. In two seasons in Cleveland, Weeden threw for 5,116 yards (56%), 23 TDs and 26 interceptions. He now finds himself in Dallas as the backup to Tony Romo. Weeden has a similar gunslinger mentality to Romo but that's where the comparisons end. It's possible OC Scott Linehan can improve Weeden's mechanics, but for now consider Weeden little more than an uninspiring fantasy handcuff in only the deepest of leagues.
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2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - The stat line from Sunday's game looked poor for Brandon Weeden; however, his shoulders should not carry all the blame for the ineptitude of the Browns passing game. Weeden threw three interceptions in the first half, the first of which was intended to 5'10, 180 lb. WR Travis Benjamin. CB Nolan Carroll heavily blanketed Benjamin and had help over the top from safety Chris Clemons. The deep pass was underthrown, partly due to pressure from the Dolphins front seven. The throw was in poor choice, as it was unlikely that Benjamin would be able to get much separation from the much bigger Carroll despite his speed. Two drives later, former Brown Dimitri Patterson intercepted Brandon Weeden after the ball deflected off Greg Little's hands. Weeden's third interception came when he threw high and behind a crossing Jordan Cameron, who could not hang on to the hard throw as the ball sailed into the hands of Dimitri Patterson once again. Of Weeden's three interceptions, only two were actually his fault. Weeden's only touchdown of the game was a seven-yard touchdown to Jordan Cameron in the back corner of the end zone. The ball looked like it was overthrown, but one can assume Weeden knew Cameron could go up there and snag the ball for a touchdown. Throughout the game, the velocity on Brandon Weeden's throws was superb, as was his arm strength in general. However, Weeden seem to float a number of passes over his receivers' heads, which has been a problem since his rookie season. Weeden continued to stare down his receivers, rarely making multiple reads. This combined with the fact that his receivers did a terrible job getting open led to Weeden standing in the pocket with nothing open downfield and simply either going down or throwing the ball away. When his receivers did inevitably get open, Weeden seemed unaware and indecisive. Davone Bess was open in the flat on fourth and two in the fourth quarter, however, Weeden was unaware of the read and was sacked. The superb pass protection that Brandon Weeden experienced throughout the preseason simply disappeared on Sunday. Weeden faced pressure on nearly half his throws and the Dolphins sacked him six times. Specifically, Oniel Cousins and Mitchell Schwartz were continually driven back into the pocket; eliminating Weeden's passing windows as well as forcing him to rush his throws. Cousins, who was responsible for 40 yards worth penalties and multiple quarterback hits, negated a fourth quarter touchdown from Weeden to Gary Barnidge to holding. The lack of pass protection seemed to eliminate Weeden's progressions on any advanced passing plays. The offensive line was without chemistry, as on multiple occasions two people blocked one pass rusher while another rushed the quarterback untouched. Overall, the externalities that affected Brandon Weeden made his otherwise average performance look like an atrocity.
Week 2 - On Sunday, Brandon Weeden made all the throws required of a quarterback to be successful in the NFL. While the Browns' passing attack failed to score any touchdowns, Weeden himself was extremely accurate and had tremendous velocity on most of his throws. Weeden had no more than three poor or inaccurate pass attempts throughout the entire game. He made a few elite level throws, such as in the 3rd quarter when he threaded a pass through four defenders and subsequently watched Greg Little drop the ball. Weeden rolled out of the pocket on the Browns' first play of the game and nailed Jordan Cameron deep down field for a beautiful 53-yard completion. You see those types of throws from Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. Throughout the game, Weeden consistently delivered strikes to his receivers, frequently hitting them between the numbers. In the pocket, Weeden played much more aware and was very successful in avoiding the rush and moving out of the pocket. On the other hand, Weeden made only a few miscues. Running back Chris Ogbonnaya was wide open deep downfield on a wheel route in the third quarter, and Weeden threw the ball slightly too far in front of Obi-Wan. While you could blame the miscue solely on Weeden, the ball did hit off Ogbonnaya's hands. Other than that, Weeden made no obvious negative plays (zero turnovers) other than three delay-of game penalties. One cannot assume that the penalties were Weeden's fault, for they could have arose due to communication problems or a lack of urgency from the coaching staff. Many may criticize Brandon Weeden for missing reads or staying in the pocket too long, however, his wide receivers were blanketed by the Ravens defense throughout the entire game. The Browns' receiving core is lacking any deep threat due to Josh Gordon's absence, and it showed on Sunday. Often times Blazing Weeds had to swallow a sack or throw the ball away because no one was open or because nobody came back to the ball when routes were broken off. On the surface, many will blame Weeden for the ineptitude of the Browns offense. However, when given such a dearth of receiving talent, it is hard accomplish much of anything, no matter who the quarterback is. Finally, the play calling by Head Coach Rob Chudzinski set up Brandon Weeden (and the entire Browns offense) for failure. Chud abandoned the run in the fourth quarter despite not trailing by more than one score the entire game. When the opposing team dictates what one's offense does, life on the quarterback will be a living hell. To conclude, externalities such as inept receiving and poor play calling ruined Brandon Weeden's and the Browns' chances for success on Sunday. (Note: Weeden did not participate in the final drive of the game due to a thumb injury. X-rays were negative and as of this writing, his Week 3 status is undetermined.)
Week 5 - Brandon Weeden came into the game for the injured Brian Hoyer in the middle of the first quarter on Thursday. Out of the gate, Weeden looked like a deer in headlights. He was a second late on most of his reads throughout the first quarter, a stark contrast to the urgency that Brian Hoyer is known for. Weeden lacked mobility in the pocket in early on as well, running into his offensive linemen when trying to scramble late in the first quarter. However, Weeden receives the benefit of the doubt due to the fact that he received no snaps in practice this week and was only a week removed from having a cast on his finger. If the first quarter is labeled as atrocious, Weeden came back strong in the second quarter. Weeden led the Browns on a 14-play, 55-yard scoring drive that culminated in a one-yard Willis McGahee touchdown run. From the second quarter on, Weeden looked poised in the pocket and delivered a good, hard ball consistently to his receivers. One does not sense urgency from Weeden in many of his throws, however. Specifically, Brandon Weeden pump faked when under duress in the third quarter with receivers open, and subsequently was taken down viciously by Bills lineman Marcell Dareus. Nonetheless, when the ball is delivered on time the results are fantastic. Brandon Weeden benefited from the return of Josh Gordon to the lineup, who was absent from the first two weeks of the season due to suspension. Gordon's presence opens the field for Weeden and allows him to utilize one of the best deep balls in the NFL (66% accuracy on deep passes in his first two games, tied-first in the NFL via PFF). Weeden showcased that deep ball in the third quarter, reading single coverage from the Bills secondary and hitting Greg Little on a 47-yard pitch and catch that was delivered perfectly in stride 40+ yards down the field. Two plays later, Weeden did the exact same thing, reading the Bills single coverage and hitting Josh Gordon in stride for the 37-yard TD strike. These are throws that Brian Hoyer simply can't make, and Browns fans clearly saw on that drive what previous regimes saw in Brandon Weeden. Overall, Brandon Weeden did an admirable job returning to the starting job on Thursday. With a series of soft pass defenses coming up on the Browns' schedule, Weeden could be due for some big games in the coming weeks.
Week 6 - One huge negative play overshadowed what was an otherwise solid performance by Brandon Weeden on Sunday against the Detroit Lions. The first of Weeden's two touchdowns came on a check down to the flat, where Chris Ogbonnaya was standing by himself after Lions coverage fail. The next came on a designed pass where the entire offense moved towards the sideline at the snap, while Weeden hit Greg Little between the numbers for a short touchdown pass. Both touchdowns came in the first half. Neither touchdown was difficult throw, but the point remains that Weeden led the Browns on two touchdown drives early in the game. On the other hand, both of Brandon Weeden's interceptions stopped drives while in Lions territory and were frankly unacceptable. The first came on third and four at the Lions 40 in the middle of the second quarter. Weeden launched a deep pass up the sideline to 5'10 Chris Ogbonnaya, who faced double coverage. DeAndre Levy followed the ball the whole way and made a spectacular leaping interception, shutting down the Browns offensive possession. Weeden's second interception came in the debauchery known as the second half, and quite frankly was one of the worst pass attempts in NFL history. On 1st and 10 in Lions territory, Brandon Weeden tried to shovel the ball out of bounds over Chris Ogbonnaya's head while facing pressure. Instead of sailing out of bounds, the ball floated in the air and came down in the hands of DeAndre Levy. The interception was completely unacceptable and will forever live on in blooper reels. From a scouting standpoint, Weeden's ball placement was spotty. On a few occasions, Weeden failed to hit his receivers between the numbers, forcing his receivers to extend their arms to catch a more difficult pass. Weeden also missed Travis Benjamin and Greg Little for long pass completions in the first half, the latter of which could have been a touchdown (if not for a penalty). At other times, Weeden delivered beautiful passes. Late in the second quarter, Brandon Weeden delivered a marvelous deep ball between three defenders to Josh Gordon near the sideline, which glanced off Gordon's fingertips. What Weeden lacked at times with accuracy and timing, he made up with superb arm strength at all levels of throws. Specifically, at the beginning of the second quarter, Weeden hit Josh Gordon with a bullet on the far side of the field for a first down. Later in the second, Weeden nailed Gordon near the sideline with a dart for 14 yards and a first down, displaying the elite-level throws that he is capable of. The combination of deep 5-7 step drops and a wide-nine look from the Detroit Lions created a perfect storm for Brandon Weeden on Sunday as well. Those two factors gave Weeden better lines of sight and more room in the pocket to operate, which showed in his great first half performance (92.3 first half QB rating). Brandon Weeden slid within the pocket well, and went through progressions well in the first half. As the Browns slowly abandoned the run game in the second half, those pass plays became less effective and Weeden began holding onto the ball too long. The pass protection on Sunday was fantastic, which is impressive given the Lions stout defensive line filled with ferocious pass rushers. However, without a run game, routes took longer to develop and the Lions defensive line eventually began consistently pressuring Brandon Weeden. The lack of adjusting and abandonment of the run game in the second half forced Weeden to play savior, which will not turn out well under any circumstance. Overall, the Browns coaching staff failed as a whole in the second half, and it negatively affected Brandon Weeden's play. Weeden also did not play his best in the second half; however, the blame in so way, shape, or form should rest solely on his shoulders. Weeden put forth a solid game on Sunday, that while was spotted with unacceptable plays, did produce points while giving the Browns a chance to win.
Week 7 - Brandon Weeden was inaccurate to start Sunday's game, missing five open receivers during the Browns' first three drives. This included an interception on fourth and one, which in hindsight was not very relevant because not throwing the ball would have resulted in a turnover anyways. Brandon Weeden does not play at the pace that is required of NFL quarterbacks, and that showed in the first quarter. On one specific play, Weeden delivered an intermediate pass to Greg Little too late, almost resulting in an interception. It is as if Weeden waits to see an open receiver before throwing the ball, rather than anticipating a receiver's cut and delivering it right when his man is open. Waiting to see an open receiver works in high school and even sometimes in college, where defenders have slower reaction times and are less physical with receivers. In general, Brandon Weeden displays poor timing on many of his throws, disrupting the offense while making things easy for opposing safeties and cornerbacks. While Weeden failed to display skills of a winning quarterback, there were externalities that limited his chances of success. First, the Browns offensive line continually collapsed into the pocket on Sunday. Secondly, the Browns receivers failed to come back for the ball when Weeden showed mobility and extended plays with his legs. (Overall, Weeden was much more mobile on Sunday than in previous weeks.) Finally, the Browns lacked an intimidating run game throughout Sunday's contest, which can devastate a quarterback's efficiency. Despite the aforementioned negatives, Brandon Weeden did show flashes of brilliance from time to time, and no doubt shows the ability to make elite level throws. On two different occasions, Weeden threw the ball through multiple defenders with elite velocity to Greg Little for solid gains. In addition, Weeden delivered two beautiful boundary passes to Jordan Cameron on Sunday, placing the ball where only the super athletic Cameron could catch it. However, these moments are rare, not happening consistently enough to lead continuous touchdown drives. The only touchdown that Brandon Weeden did throw was an impressive laser through a small window late in the fourth quarter. In closing, Brandon Weeden did not play at the level necessary to beat a team as good as the Packers. While he at times showed why he was a first-round draft pick, those moments were far too sporadic to be successful on Sunday.
Week 12 - Brandon Weeden came into the game cold on Sunday and surely did not blow away anybody with the results. Weeden's ball placement was spotty on shorter throws ˝ it seems weird to notion that Weeden's accuracy seems to improve the farther he throws the ball down the field. Weeden beautifully nailed Josh Gordon down the sideline on a 47-yard reception in the fourth quarter. However, Weeden followed that up with two incomplete passes and a fumble. That fumble was one of two turnovers for Weeden on Sunday, the second being a 21-yard pix six by Steelers cornerback William Gay. Gay jumped a short pass attempt to Jordan Cameron, and it simply looked like a rookie mistake by Brandon Weeden. Luckily, Weeden was not completely terrible on Sunday ˝ in fact, he looked much better than Jason Campbell has the past two weeks. Weeden heavily targeted Josh Gordon in the second half, a very smart thing to do. This led to big gains and eventually a one-yard touchdown pass on a fade to Josh Gordon. The ball was arched perfectly for Gordon to use his size to corral the pass for six points. In addition, Brandon Weeden displayed tremendous velocity on all of his throws on Sunday. The ability to zip passes in faster helps mask Weeden's struggles with accuracy and timing. According to reports, it looks like Brandon Weeden will start next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Week 13 - Brandon Weeden put forth one of his best games on the season this Sunday against the Jaguars, despite an unlucky streak that eliminated the Browns' momentum going into halftime. Well, one would suppose that would be the case if momentum actually existed. Weeden looked extremely comfortable and confident in the pocket on Sunday, throwing with purpose and no visible signs of hesitation. This is a stark contrast from previous games, where Weeden would hesitantly pump fake while generally looking antsy within the pocket. This confidence within the pocket came despite a poor job of pass protecting from the Browns offensive line, specifically right guard Shaun Lauvao and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Both of Brandon Weeden's two fumbles (one lost) were a result of pressure coming from the right side of the offensive line. Moving on from the offensive line woes, Brandon Weeden displayed impressive downfield accuracy throughout the game. For example, Weeden connected with Josh Gordon on the first offensive play of the game for 42 yards on a perfectly placed pass on the sideline. On Brandon Weeden's first touchdown pass, he threw a perfect fade/streak to Gordon that exhibited tremendous touch and ball placement. Weeden targeted Josh Gordon frequently on Sunday, and reaped huge benefits statistically. Weeden's final touchdown pass was a 95 yard catch and run by Flash Gordon, all Weeden did was put the ball in a spot where his wide receiver could make a play. Success is not possible under those circumstances, however, if the receiver does not make a play on the ball. On Brandon Weeden's first interception, he delivered the ball (albeit a tad late) in between defenders over the middle of the field to Jordan Cameron. Cameron failed to make a play on the ball, allowing the pass to be intercepted by the safety over the top. While Brandon Weeden played a good game on Sunday, he was not without error. Weeden tended to sail the ball over his receivers'' heads, and even on some completions the ball was above his target's heads. This has been a problem for Weeden since he has been a Brown. In addition, Brandon Weeden made a few poor decisions with the football ˝ most of which dealt with forcing the ball into coverage. For Brandon Weeden to have success in Norv Turner's offense, he must be confident with his arm and thread the ball in between defenders frequently while maintaining a certain level of success. Poor decisions such as his second interception and a few ýnear interceptionsţ are what hold Brandon Weeden back from fully blossoming within Turner's system. However, Weeden did what many expected out of him today - succeeding against a relatively youthful and inexperienced Jaguars secondary.